Sunday, November 13, 2011

Contrasting A Person Who Thinks With One Who Doesn't

Cruising around the interwebs, I came across some prime examples of each person.  Representing the non-thinkers, Michele Bachmann,
"The ‘Great Society’ has not worked and it’s put us into the modern welfare state,” she said. “If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situation. They save for their own retirement security…They don’t have the modern welfare state and China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they’d be gone.”
Bachmann's analysis, of course, ignores the fact that China's command and control economy makes Johnson's Great Society look positively libertarian by contrast.  Then there's the minor problem that China doesn't seem to have any political ideals that square with either democratic or republican principles.

Representing the thinkers, a person who seems to have anticipated Ms. Bachmann's lack of thought, G.K.Chesterton.  In an essay entitled What's Wrong With The World, Chesterton writes,
Therefore there has arisen in modern life a literary fashion devoting itself to the romance of business, to great demigods of greed and to fairyland of finance. This popular philosophy is utterly despotic and anti-democratic; this fashion is the flower of that Caesarism against which I am concerned to protest. The ideal millionaire is strong in the possession of a brain of steel. The fact that the real millionaire is rather more often strong in the possession of a head of wood, does not alter the spirit and trend of the idolatry. The essential argument is "Specialists must be despots; men must be specialists. You cannot have equality in a soap factory; so you cannot have it anywhere. You cannot have comradeship in a wheat corner; so you cannot have it at all. We must have commercial civilization; therefore we must destroy democracy." I know that plutocrats have seldom sufficient fancy to soar to such examples as soap or wheat. They generally confine themselves, with fine freshness of mind, to a comparison between the state and a ship. One anti-democratic writer remarked that he would not like to sail in a vessel in which the cabin-boy had an equal vote with the captain. It might easily be urged in answer that many a ship (the Victoria, for instance) was sunk because an admiral gave an order which a cabin-boy could see was wrong. But this is a debating reply; the essential fallacy is both deeper and simpler. The elementary fact is that we were all born in a state; we were not all born on a ship;. . . . But we live and die in the vessel of the state; and if we cannot find freedom camaraderie and the popular element in the state, we cannot find it at all. And the modern doctrine of commercial despotism means that we shall not find it at all. Our specialist trades in their highly civilized state cannot (it says) be run without the whole brutal business of bossing and sacking, "too old at forty" and all the rest of the filth.
Of course if one is seeking to be the nominee of  a political party that has devoted " itself to the romance of business, to great demigods of greed and to fairyland of finance," it's easy to see why one would be willing to overlook despotism, commercial or otherwise.

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